The Cinnamon-flavoured revolution is here as Mint releases its
first truly independent desktop environment.
From a normal user-perspective, Linux Mint 16 might be the
lightest Mint release in terms of new features and content.
There are some aesthetic changes to Cinnamon, MATE is still
roughly the same and there’s a new default theme for MDM.
It’s still the same old, fantastic Linux Mint as before in that
regard; however, this seemingly minor release has one of the
biggest updates in Linux Mint history. Cinnamon 2.0, the Mintdeveloped desktop environment, has replaced its GNOME
base with one of its own.
We’ll get to that, though – first of all, here are the facts.
Linux Mint 16 is based on Ubuntu 13.10, the pre-LTS release,
and as usual gets rid of some of the more commercial stuff
while keeping the non-free software, making it a better
experience for users not too concerned with strictly using
FOSS. Cinnamon and MATE versions are offered to start off,
with specific Mint-themed KDE and Xfce versions to come.
These desktops are already available through the software
The installation hasn’t changed at all since last time, using
the same standard Ubuntu installer. It’s fast, fairly easy to use
and has some decent default options for installing alongside
or replacing a distro altogether. It’s themed to Mint at least, so
there’s no mistaking what you’re installing.
Once installation is completed, though, you restart into one
of the first new changes – the new HTML 5 login theme. It’s a
nice little touch, and it looks little like the Ubuntu login screen.
This new MDM theme also has your user selected by default,
rather than the previous method of having to manually enter
a username or select a user. The previous clouds theme is
still available, nonetheless, and you can also switch to a more
secure login screen if the idea of having your
username on display worries you.
Here’s where the most interesting part starts
– Cinnamon 2.0. On first impressions, long-term
Cinnamon users will notice that the icons and
Mint Menu are just ever so slightly different:
brighter colours and better transparency effects,
although the fonts look a touch fuzzier. Generally
though, it just highlights the different important
areas a bit better, slightly aiding in navigation
and workflow, especially for new users. While
these are only little touches, and there are a
more of them scattered throughout, the biggest
change is the aforementioned change to a pure
While invisible to most, the removal of the
GNOME back-end from the Cinnamon code is
an enormous achievement for the Mint team,
especially as the final result is very stable. No
functionality has been lost in the transition and
while nothing has been specifi cally added either,
it means that future versions of Cinnamon will
be able to include more innovation than before.
Such as new feature edge-snapping, allowing
you to lock a window to a specific corner or side
of the desktop and other windows will maximise
around it. This is great for multi-monitor setups
and/or extremely large screens, and lets you
keep an eye on windows that are currently
Our other MATE
While Cinnamon is steaming ahead with big
changes, the same thing can’t be said for MATE
in this release. 1.6 from April is still in use, which
is still a great desktop environment but it’s being
slightly shown up by the rest of the distro. The
team has been concentrating more on getting it
stable on other distros, which has really been the
main issue with MATE since its inception. While
it’s doing that well, it means it’s not receiving
much innovation for the time-being.
This is sort of indicative of Linux Mint 16
in general. When we spoke to Clem Lefebvre
around the release of Linux Mint 15, he
mentioned that 16 would be a ‘harder sell
as it wasn’t receiving the wealth of great new
features as 15 was. However, it’s important that
they release it like this now so that when Ubuntu
14.04 LTS is released, the crowdsourced bug
testing of a major release like this will iron out
any minor issues still remaining.
The big question, though: is this still the
fantastic Linux Mint distro we’ve come to expect?
The answer is a resounding yes – while very little
is new, with such a big change it’s much more
important that they were able to at least replicate
Linux Mint 15. They’ve managed to do that and a
little more, with the result being a great Linux
distro that, while great for a home office, can be
We couldn’t have asked much more of Linux Mint for this release,
but it’s managed to meet all our expectations
and slightly exceed them. An important
release and frankly still a great distro, politics